No. 1
5th January 1854
My Lord Duke
The British Barque "Lord Western", of about 500 tons burden, having been wrecked through stress of weather, on the west coast of Vancouver's Island, in the month of November last, while bound from Victoria to the Port of San Francisco, with a full cargo of timber, and salt fish, the greater part of which was shipped on freight, by Mr Robert Swanston, Merchant of this place; I was apprised of those circumstances by him, in a letter, of which I herewith enclose a copy, and which also contains a requisition on this Government for assistance in relieving the Master whose nameisManuscript image is Parker, and three of the Mariners who were left near the wreck, among the savages, in a state of great destitution, while the remnant of the crew, effected a return to this place, in the Ship's boats.
He moreover informed me in a personal conference, that he could give no security for any expenses, incurred for that object, as he possessed no interest in the ship, and knew that the owners had no other property, and would be altogether ruined by the loss of their vessel; and for that and other reasons, stated in his letter, he had made application to me for assistance on the part of this Government.
The onus of relief was therefore thrown wholly upon the Government and it being a case admitting of no delay, seeing that the unfortunate men, unless speedily succoured, might perish of hunger, or fall a prey to the merciless savage; I immediately proceeded to secure the services of the Hudson's Bay Company's Steam Propeller "Otter," and despatched her upon that Mission, on the 20th Ultimo. She fortunately reached the scene of the disaster, in time to save Captain Parker, and his fellow sufferers, whowereManuscript image were found among the natives, and brought in safety to this Port, on the 26th Ultimo.
A copy of my correspondence, in reference to the steps taken for the relief of the "Lord Western's" crew, and of a letter received from Captain Parker, on his return to this place, expressive of his gratitude for that relief, are herewith transmitted for your Grace's information.
I now beg to receive your Grace's instructions in respect to the payment of the expenses incurred for that object; those being the charter of the Steam Propeller "Otter", and for clothing given through my orders, to the seamen of the "Lord Western", on their arrival here, in a perfectly destitute state.
That account amounting in all to £131.0.0. is herewith transmitted.
Though I have in that instance acted for the best interests of humanity, and in behalf of Her Majesty's subjects in distress, yet having done so, without specific or even general instructions on the subject; I naturally feel some anxiety to learn, if those proceedings meet with Your Graces approval and whether the expenses incurred, are to be defrayed out of the TrustFundManuscript image Fund of this Colony, or by the Imperial Government, and I have to beg that your Grace will direct accordingly.
Awaiting your Grace's instructions on that point and with respect to the amount of aid, which I am authorised to afford, when applied to for assistance, in behalf of persons shipwrecked, on the uninhabited coasts of Vancouver's Island, when beyond the reach or destitute of assistance from other sources.
I have the honor to be Your Graces
most obedient Servant
James Douglas
Governor

His Grace the Right Honble
The Duke of Newcastle
Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State
For the Colonial Department
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
The expenses incurred on account of these Shipwrecked British Seamen will be defrayed from Imperial Funds? Request the Treasury to repay the amount to the Hudson's Bay Company? The Governor asks for instructions as to the amount of aid he is authorized to afford in cases of that nature, but thisManuscript image is a point on which it would appear to be difficult to give any precise instructions—the extent of relief must materially depend on the circumstances of each case?
VJ 15 April
Better I think send the despatch to the Treasury & ask them to
answer the Governor's question. I should like to know their view on the subject, which is not quite an easy one.
HM Apl 21
N 22
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 1, 29 May 1855 [1854], agreeing that the "Trust Fund" is appropriate to defray the Lord Western's rescue-costs, as it is for "local purposes."
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Draft, Colonial Office to A. Colvile, Hudson's Bay Company, 31 May 1855 [1854], forwarding copy of despatch and advising that the expenses incurred should be paid out of the colonial trust fund.
Minutes by CO staff
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This trust fund is in the hands of the H.B. Company: & it is therefore proper to apprize that Co that H.M. Govt consider it liable for the expense on acct of the Lord Western.
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Draft, Colonial Office to Trevelyan, Treasury, 2 May 1854, forwarding copy of despatch and seeking concurrence in Newcastle's view that the expense should be repaid to the Hudson's Bay Company from government funds.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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1. Receipt dated 29 December 1853 bearing signatures (or marks) of 11 shipwrecked seamen who received 1 each for clothing.
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2. Statement of expenses incurred in rescue of the crew of the Lord Western, dated Fort Victoria, 28 December 1853, and signed by R. Finlayson, Chief Trader, Hudson's Bay Company.
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3. Copy, Robert Swanston to Douglas, 19 December 1853, enclosing Statement of crew members of the Lord Western and seeking government assistance to rescue remainder of crew. [Statement of crew not on file.]
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4. Copy, Douglas to Captain Millar, in command of the Otter, 20 December 1853, instructing him to undertake the rescue.
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5. Copy, Richard Golledge, Private Secretary to Douglas, to Swanston, 20 December 1853, informing him of the steps being taken by Douglas.
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P. Parker, Master of the Lord Western, to Douglas, 26 December 1853, thanking him for the assistance rendered.
Douglas, James to Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes 5 January 1854, CO 305:5, no. 3205, 1. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/V54001.html.

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